Updated: Jan 20, 2020
Game conferences and expos are the best ways to market your games. Mainly because the people visiting these gaming expos are from gaming industry either consuming games, selling products (Ad networks, SDKs etc.) related to games or looking to buy content like publishers.
There are over 100s of such conferences that take place in a single year. GDC, PGConnect, GamesDaily, IGDC, PAX are some amazing ones among the list. All you have to do is get a showcasing table for yourself for that particular event following their respective guidelines.
Assuming you have a table already and just thinking what all things to do for a bigger impact, this article is for you.
Game expos and conferences are best ways to get valuable feedback from the players even before you publish your game. From local to international expos, you are most likely to get at least from few hundreds to thousands of people play your game under one roof.
There are 3 main objectives you need to keep in mind:
a) Watch every players behavior from the moment they start the game to the point they give you the device back.
b) Note down the feedback from these players, so have a notebook/diary handy as you are most likely to forget some important ones when you’re back from the expo.
c) Securing a publishing deal, if you looking for one.
The idea here is to attract as many people as you can towards your table not just with your game but your presentation skills too. Most of the times at these expos, you only get a table and a small space around it. You need to make sure it’s appealing so that it looks better than most of the others out there. Put on a nice cloth on the table which suits the color tone of your game or studio (if there are multiple games to showcase).
Usually there’s not much space given around the table, unless it’s a booth (which usually is expensive in the expos). But there’s enough area to at least have one standee of your game. Have the most important features and screenshots printed on the standee, but be sure to make it visually appealing. If your game is about to launch and you know the date, just print it on the banner.It won’t make a lot of difference but there are always few interested people who love to keep track. A normal standee along with the flex can be made in Rs. 1500 – 2000. If you can’t afford a standee, at least have a flex banner on the table front or on the wall behind you.
Be prepared with at least 3 devices with the latest build of your game installed on them. Identify any showstoppers beforehand that can occur when people play the game, if you find any first fix it! Having big screen devices like tablets and iPADs can make good impact due to high resolutions. Take multiple charging equipment with you for backup so that you don’t dry up your devices too soon. In terms of a PC game, you definitely need a big screen that can leave a great impact on the people out there.
Prepare a short pitch of your game with all the core information that you want to convey to the players. “Elevator pitch is a succinct sales pitch that outlines an idea for a product, named after an ability to deliver the summary of a product in the time span of an elevator ride”. You will definitely need this as you are going to repeat this for more than 100 times to every player coming to your table. Make sure you don’t forget to mention the key features or USPs of your game.
Have at least a 100 of them on your table. Give it to everyone coming to your table, there are lot of opportunities that can open up in terms of work and publishing deals.
If you have a little more budget to spend on the game, I recommend having a TV at your table. Get a great trailer made for your game and play it in loop on the TV. You can also play gameplay videos of your game. The best part of having a TV is people can see and understand your game without even coming to your table from a distance itself. If your game is good they are definitely going to come up to you, but at least you can let people around you see the game. If you are traveling too far and can’t carry a TV, you can have it rented from a local dealer near your venue. In India, it usually costs around Rs.3000-5000 per day to rent a good 42 inch TV.
Promotional and marketing materials are integral part of showcasing. Have some flyers and/or A4 size posters of your game and details. Make them available to people who visit your table. Be prepared to see them lying on the floor few hours later and not feel bad about it. Posters work very well when your game is already published on the store. You just need to add a QR code that helps people download the game directly from the flyers and posters. If your game is based on characters, having cardboard cutouts of those characters will let people remember them. It also adds up to your tables visual appeal.
Few people will just turn to your table when they see some free goodies on your table. It’s similar to “Trap the mouse with a cheese” situation; pitch your game, let them play and get the feedback – Job Done!
The most effective goodie that even worked for us. Usually costs you around Rs.15-20 per piece. Get at least a 100 of these badges and give them as free gifts to people playing your game. Make sure they are visually appealing and people feel comfortable putting them on their clothes, bags etc. Stickers, Keychains and T-shirts are few more that can be added to your list.
If you’re game is competitive enough, having a small competition within the expo at your table will bring in lot of people. Arrange for one where you can award the winner with a small gift as people are very much interested in competing at these expos.
Learning from expos are not valuable unless you implement and follow up on those once you back from them. You will definitely meet few good people and important contacts at the expo, make sure you connect back to them via mails once you home.
Hoping my 2 cents would help you in your preparations for the next event. That’s all for now, drop in your comments below. All the best!
Finally here are few of my thoughts on searching for a game publisher: